Collaborate Against Cancer27 Sep 2022

Fresh hope for young leukaemia patients across the Tasman

Blood cancer patients aged 4-21 in New Zealand are being recruited for a new drug trial supported by Minderoo Foundation.

Photo Credit: FatCamera via Getty Images.

Minderoo Foundation is proud to support a landmark trial in New Zealand of two promising drugs for children and young adults who have relapsed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Minderoo’s funding of this trial aligns with our mission to support the discovery of breakthrough treatments for paediatric cancers and ensure equal access to new medicines.

Developed by leaders in paediatric oncology at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the US, the RAVEN trial provides access to a new medication called venetoclax for those aged four to 21 who have relapsed with ALL, a disease responsible for a quarter of all childhood cancers.

Minderoo Foundation’s Aileen Boyd-Squires said the Phase II trial is the first to examine in a large sample of young people with relapsed ALL the efficacy of combining the Melbourne-developed medication venetoclax with navitoclax alongside standard chemotherapy.

While frontline therapy cures most young patients with ALL, sadly up to 20 per cent relapse and often experience resistance to chemotherapy, limiting their treatment options and chance of survival.

“Venetoclax has shown encouraging results in the treatment of some adult blood cancers, including triggering remission in patients with previously exhausted treatment options,” Ms Boyd-Squires said.

“This cornerstone funding will be critical in assessing the effectiveness of venetoclax combination treatment to overcome chemotherapy resistance in children and young people with relapsed or refractory ALL.”

Sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) with Minderoo Foundation funding the New Zealand arm, the trial is recruiting patients aged four to 21 at Christchurch Hospital and Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital.

“Without this generous funding from Minderoo Foundation, children from New Zealand would not be able to access this important new combination treatment,” said Dr Michael Osborn, RAVEN’s National Principal Investigator for Australia and New Zealand.

“Equity of access is very important, and Minderoo is helping us to achieve that goal.”

Also taking part in the trial are patients at:

  • Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne;
  • Queensland Children’s Hospital;
  • John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and Sydney Children’s Hospital in New South Wales; and
  • Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

Minderoo Foundation’s contribution highlights the role philanthropy is playing in advancing research, discovery and delivery of world-leading care to children with cancer, Ms Boyd-Squires said.

“We are proud to support this trial and we eagerly await seeing its positive outcomes on young people and their families who are battling blood cancer,” she said.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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